When news broke this week that Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney, would step down immediately, many Marvel fans were surprised at how sudden it seemed. Iger, had led the company through a series of high-profile acquisitions, including Marvel, which Disney bought in 2009 for $4 billion.
More than that, Iger was one of the forces who helped make sure that Spider-Man would stay in the Marvel Cinematic Universe when the deal between Sony and Disney went south last year.
Now fans are wondering if Iger’s successor, Bob Chapek, will be able to sustain that deal.
How Sony and Disney broke up and made up
Fans will recall that late last summer, Sony and Disney were at odds regarding Spider-Man. Before the MCU came along, Sony owned the screen rights to the character, having produced five standalone live-action standalone movies between 2002 and 2014. Once the MCU got rolling, Marvel President Kevin Feige wanted Spider-Man there badly.
Sony and Disney negotiated a sharing deal that Spider-Man could appear in MCU movies while also appearing in standalone movies. Kevin Feige and his team would have creative input on the standalone movies, but Sony would own and distribute those movies.
For a while, all was well, with fans loving Tom Holland’s portrayal of the character.
But then the deal expired, Disney wanted more money and Sony said no way, not wanting to cede control of their most valuable property. The story went that an impassioned Holland pleaded with Bob Iger to extend the deal, and it was done. A new standalone Spider-Man movie was scheduled for 2021, and Spider-Man got to stay in the MCU. For now, anyway.
What do fans think will happen with a new CEO?
Some fans on Reddit gnashed their teeth about Iger’s departure, but it was pointed out that Iger isn’t leaving Disney entirely, and he would continue to have creative input during the transition period. Iger’s statement said, in part “I have the utmost confidence in (Chapek) and look forward to working closely with him over the next 22 months as he assumes this new role … while I continue to focus on the company’s creative endeavors. “
Still, fans wondered what the new CEO would do about the Sony deal. One fan said, “I’m sure he’s not going to mess with the MCU creatively, so the quality of the movies will be fine, but will he work well with Sony so we can keep having Spider-Man? Hopefully Iger has taught him how beneficial this deal is for the company, and we all know studio execs like money. We’ll see though.”
Another fan countered, ‘New CEO wouldn’t try to rock the boat or fix things that ain’t broke, let alone a golden goose like the MCU.” And still another fan pointed out that as long as Feige is in charge, Spider-Man should be fine.
What is the future of Spider-Man now?
It will be quite some time before Bob Chapek can truly make his influence felt. For now, though, the Spider-Man train chugs along with not only the third Tom Holland Spider-Man movie, but a few Spidey-adjacent movies.
First up is Morbius, which may be a title mysterious to more casual Spider-Man fans, but in the comics, he’s one of Spider-Man’s key villains, a chemist turned vampire. He’ll be played by Jared Leto, with that movie coming out July 31 this year. Close on its heels is the other Spider-Man villain who got his own movie, Venom. Come October 2, Venom 2, again starring Tom Hardy, will feature Woody Harrelson’s Carnage.
Finally, the third Spider-Man movie with Holland will drop in July 2021, with Peter Parker grappling with the sudden loss of his secret identity. Further down the pike will be a sequel to the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, with that movie slated for 2022. So for the next two years at least, Spider-Man movies should maintain high quality irrespective of who’s in charge at Disney.